Archive for November, 2005

Eating and drinking in Slovenia

We loved the food and wine in Ljubljana. Since we were in a hotel, we had to eat out all the time; which I don’t complain about, but it’s always nice to do some cooking yourself in another country, to get a better feel for the ingredients and recipes there. From the Lonely Planet site, I got the impression that horse meat is very popular in Slovenia. And indeed, most restaurants serve one or two dishes with horse in them. We never ate that though, don’t know why, it’s just not done where I come from. Still, there were enough alternatives to choose from. A lot of meat, game, saucages; fish now and then; but also enough vegetable-based dishes (I’m not vegetarian, but I love to eat veggies). There’s quite a number of Italian restaurants, serving pasta dishes, gnocchi, risotto; and again, meat.

And the wine! Great wine all around; very young red wine that we drank at lunch in Luka Gourmet’s Lunch Café; fresh and fruity white and sparkling wines; and more aged reds, it was all there, all Slovene. Someone told us Slovenia doesn’t produce enough wine to export, so it will be hard finding any abroad. And as we travelled by train, we couldn’t take any with us. Another reason to come back some time, by car.

The restaurants we liked most:

  • Sokol, serves Slovene dishes; I had a big plate with all sorts of saucages, as well as the braised cabbage we often got; a bit like sauerkraut, but less sour. Nice young house wine served at the right temperature: cold.
  • Luka Gourmet’s Lunch Café is an Italian restaurant, always crowded at lunch time, though we always managed to find a table. Good simple pasta dishes, but they also have a daily changing menu that will bring some variation when you’ve got to know the regular menu, when you come there rather often. As we did. Their young house wine comes from a tap, and I could drink this every day. As we did.
  • Špajza has a large choice of Slovene and Italian dishes as well as an extensive wine list. We ate there on our last evening in Ljubljana, and a good choice that was. We loved the venison with berries (maybe a bit too hefty for the Merlot).

2005-11-20. No responses.

Pictures of Ljubljana

For me, the first picture is Ljubljana-in-a-photo: the castle on the mountain in the background, the eastern-looking church towers, one of the many art nouveau-style buildings in the foreground, and the central Presernov square, with the three bridges over the Ljubljana river behind it. (Click on a photo to enlarge it:)



Early Sunset

2005-11-19. No responses.

Slovene lessons

Finally the gray blanket over Ljubljana has lifted and we’re seeing some sun today for the first time, our last day in the Slovene capital. Yesterday, we visited the school museum; a tiny little museum in an old school building. We were asked to join a Slovene school class in a ‘lesson from the past’, a writing lesson as it would have been given in 1930. A very strict teacher first checked everyone’s hands to see if they were clean, then proceeded to teach how to write different letters–with old fashioned ink and pen. It was all fun to watch, even though we didn’t understand a word (it was all in Slovene).
In the evening, we were invited to the home of M.’s Slovene colleague for dinner. It’s strange how you expect everything to be different in another country, when so much turns out to be so recognizable and familiar. That’s something to realize when you read about faraway countries: people there work, and eat, and have children, and enjoy themselves, just like people do in your own environment. Another very pleasant evening.
Tomorrow we’re off on an excursion touring the country, so we’ll see some more of Slovenia outside its capital. And after that we’re on the train back home…

2005-11-17. One response.

Down and out (of plums) in Ljubljana

Am I addicted, beyond hope, if I spend half an hour of my vacation in Ljubljana in an Internet café? My friends and colleagues seem to think so. Go visit some local plum factory to taste some old wives’ plum juice, one of them wrote to me. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many plum factories around here (there must be something to do with plums here though, cause we get very juicy, tasty plums for breakfast every morning). And after two, three days, I believe I’ve seen all the major attractions of the city. Great city, don’t get me wrong; very relaxed and easy-going. The temperature and the temperament remind me of a small Dutch city. But I like a bit of rest as well, after so many months of working hard to implement the new Dutch health insurance system for a health insurance company. So I don’t mind spending an hour a day in the hotel sauna/pool, as well as coming to this Slovene Internet café (very cool place, with trendy looking people behind pc’s, I hope I fit in) for half an hour. Ok, I promise I’ll do something seriously touristy this afternoon. Even take my camera. Maybe visit some shady plum factory and taste the local plum juice.

2005-11-15. No responses.

From Slovenia With Love

This week, M. had to go to Slovenia for work, and I joined her. We went there by train, which takes longer than a plane flight, but saves zou the time & trouble of going to Schiphol, checking in, waiting, being searched & checked, more waiting… For European flights, all of this usually takes more time than the flight itself. So, the train. We left at 9.30 pm in a sleeping wagon. We had a small sleeping coupé all for ourselves: two beds, two chairs and a table, and a tiny bathroom with shower. A purser welcomed us with a complementary bottle of prosecco, and in the morning he brought us breakfast. We changed trains at 7.30 the following morning, then arrived in Ljubljana at 2 pm. I always thought it couldn’t get more romantic than that: a train ride right across Europe; well, it was romantic allright, even though the coupé was a lot smaller than the one in From Russia With Love, and we were too tired to have long, meaningful conversations like they did in Before Sunrise. It was definitely worth a 16 hour ride though, as we arrived here very relaxed.

Location of Slovenia, our route in red
Location of Slovenia, our route in red

We’ve had some time to visit the city’s highlights, like the castle overlooking the city from the top of a hill. Then there was the city museum, which has recently been renovated but is not quite finished yet. A lot of empty rooms, though you get a good impression of what the place will eventually be like when they’re done. It does look promising: their key message is “Single people make historic events.” Or: what’s really interesting about history isn’t wars and politics and learning in what year Leiden was freed from the Spaniards; it’s much more intriguing to find out how ordinary people lived their day-to-day life, doing the things we do, thinking the things we think, but, say, two thousand years ago, or even fifty years ago. The Ljubljana city museum focuses around this theme. I’ll sure want to come back to see it finished.

2005-11-14. No responses.

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